Tag Archives: lists

Hey Ya! It’s Crazy – the Top 10 Rock Songs of the Oughts (2000’s)

Hey (Ya), have you been wondering about the top songs of the Oughts (2000’s)?  Well, neither have I (kidding).  It was a crazy decade (according to songs 3 and 4).  Here they are, according to digitaldreamdoor.com:

1. Hey Ya – Outkast

Outkast

2. Lose Yourself – Eminem

Eminem

3. Crazy in Love – Beyoncé feat. Jay Z

Beyonce

4. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

Gnarls Barkley

5. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

White Stripes

6. Clocks – Coldplay

Coldplay

7. Paper Planes – M.I.A.

M.I.A.

8. Last Night – The Strokes

The Strokes

9. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

10. Jesus Walks – Kanye West

Enjoy!

Happy New Year – 2011

As we enter 2011, please keep in mind one thing – “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out another” – anonymous.

I found the greetings below at guy-sports.com:

Note: In some languages the accents are important, for example in Spanish you really do need the tilde over the ‘n’ in Año.  Ano without a tilde, has the most unfortunate meaning happy new anus.

Language

Happy New Year

Afrikaans Gelukkige nuwe jaar
Arabic Sana Sa-eeda
Bengali Shuvo Nabo Barsho
Cambodian Soursdey Chhnam Tmei
Catalan Feliç Any Nou
Chinese (Mandarin) Xin Nian Kuai Le  謹 賀 新 年
Croatian Sretna Nova godina
Danish Godt Nytår
Dutch Gelukkig Nieuwjaar
Eskimo Kiortame pivdluaritlo
Esperanto Felican Novan Jaron
Finnish Onnellista Uutta Vuotta
French Bonne Année
Gaelic Bliadhna mhath ur
German Prosit Neujahr
Greek Kenourios Chronos
Hawaiian Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Hebrew L’Shannah Tovah
Hindi Naye Varsha Ki Shubhkamanyen
Hong Kong Sun Leen Fai Lok
Hungarian Boldog Ooy Ayvet
Indonesian Selamat Tahun Baru
Iranian Saleh now mobarak
Iraqi Sanah Jadidah
Irish Bliain nua fe mhaise dhuit
Italian Felice anno nuovo
Icelandic Farsælt komandi ár
Japanese Akimashite Omedetto Gozaimasu
Korean Saehae Bock Mani ba deu sei yo
Kurdish Newroz Pirozbe
Latvian Laimīgo Jauno Gadu!
Lithuanian Laimingu Naujuju Metu
Maltese Is Senat Tajba
Nepal Nawa Barsha ko Shuvakamana
Norwegian Godt Nyttår
Papua New Guinea Nupela yia i go long yu
Persian Saleh now ra tabrik migouyam
Philippines Manigong Bagong Taon
Polish  Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Portuguese Feliz Ano Novo
Punjabi Nave sal di mubarak
Romanian An Nou Fericit
Russian С Новым Годом (S Novim Godom)
Samoa Manuia le Tausaga Fou
Serbo-Croatian Sretna nova godina
Slovak A stastlivy Novy Rok
Slovenian Sreèno novo leto
Somali Iyo Sanad Cusub Oo Fiican
Spanish Féliz Año Nuevo
Swahili Heri Za Mwaka Mpyaº
Swedish Gott nytt år!
Sudanese Warsa Enggal
Tamil Eniya Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal
Thai Sawadee Pee Mai
Turkish Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian С Новым Годом Z novym rokom
Urdu Naya Saal Mubbarak Ho
Vietnamese Chuc Mung Tan Nien
Welsh Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

 

Enjoy!

The Greatest Books – 21 for 2011

I love books and like lists.  As we roll into a new year, I thought I’d mention a list I came across recently and the top 21 books that are placed there.

The list may be located on a website entitled The Greatest Books.  Shane Sherman took 43 “best of” lists (such as Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, Great Books Foundation, Harvard Bookstore, National Book Foundation… you get the idea) and generated a website to track the lists and keep track of those read.  Shane was kind enough to share the list with the rest of us.  You can see the entire list and links to the “best of” lists at The Greatest Books.

I’ll list the top 21 to read as we enter 2011, but please go the The Greatest Books site to check it out for yourself.  I won’t include brief descriptions or links, since the site is such a wonderful resource.  Please check it out for yourself here: The Greatest Books.

It really is a remarkable work and runs 21 pages with 1005 books listed.  I’m sure many people would argue with the placement of many novels on the list, but that is exactly what makes “best of” book lists fun (at least for me).  There is also a  search function on the site, but I was disappointed to discover that it simply displays the novel, not its placement on the list – just about my only disappointment with the site – it didn’t even bother me (too much… for too long) that my favorite novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany is only #616 on this list (not even in the top half… really?).

Here are the top 21:

#21 – Moby Dick by Herman Melville

#20 – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

#19 – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

#18 – On the Road by Jack Kerouac

#17 – To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe

#16 – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

#15 – Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

#14 – The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

#13 – One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

#12 – Middlemarch by George Eliot

#11 – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

#10 – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

#9 – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

#8 – In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

#7 – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

#6 – 1984 by George Orwell

#5 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

#4 – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

#3 – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

#2 – Ulysses by James Joyce

#1 – Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Enjoy!

An A to Z of Classic Literature for Middle School Students

I love books and I like lists.  Here’s yet another entry of a list about books:

LuAnn Schindler complied a list of classic literature for middle school students for Life 123.  As she says, “This list introduces new characters and alien worlds to the middle school set. Several of these books are commonly taught in middle school English classes, so adding them to a summer reading list can give your child an advantage when they come up during the school year.”

I’ve added some descriptions I’ve found from around the Internet.  None of the descriptions are lengthy enough to do the novels justice, but will hopefully provide some bit of direction.  Although this isn’t an exaustive list, it is a good start on reading for middleschoolers.

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne – In the mid-nineteenth century, a French professor and his two companions, trapped aboard a fantastic submarine as prisoners of the deranged Captain Nemo, come face to face with exotic ocean creatures and strange sights hidden from the world above (Classic Reader).
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean old miser, is given a second chance to do right after being haunted by three ghosts on Christmas Eve (Learn Out Loud).
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck – A semi-autobiographical tale of a boy’s struggle with adolescence and the responsibility of manhood (SparkNotes).
  • A Stranger Came Ashore by Mollie Hunter – Twelve-year-old Robbie becomes convinced that the stranger befriended by his family is one of the Selkie Folk and tries to get help against his magical powers from the local wizard (goodreads).
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – A tale of an immigrant family. It’s been characterized as a “coming-of-age” novel (About.com).
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin – the first of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in the fantasy world archipelago of Earthsea depicting the adventures of a budding young wizard named Ged (Wikipedia).
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – Meg Murry, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. She claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract,” which, if you didn’t know, is a wrinkle in time (Madeleine L’engle).
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt – Shots fired far away spark a civil war that will have painful repercussions for an Illinois family. This book shows how war affects ordinary people and changes their lives forever.  Effectively exploring the complex issues behind the war [this] well-researched historical tale is captivating and memorable (common sense).
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Dr. Watson chronicles here some of the more interesting detective cases that he and his good friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, have encountered during their association. We see the cases unfold as he does, scratch our heads as does he while the evidence is collected, and then marvel at the impeccable observations, remarkable insight, and doggedness which Holmes displays as he teases apart the tangled clues (LibriVox).
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – Enjoy the story of Tom Sawyer as a mischevious young boy carries on under the watchful eye of his Aunt Polly. Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer is one part trickster, one escape artist and one part very lucky fellow! The Adventures of Tom Sawyer takes the reader along on a series of entertaining adventures and pranks while Tom’s youthful romance with his sweetheart Becky Thatcher blooms in the background. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is one of Mark Twain’s most beloved works (americanliterature.com)
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man – Based on the true story of a man who was born in Africa, captured by slaves when he was fifteen, sold as a slave in America, and freed when he was fifty-nine. Amos Fortune’s life illustrates the triumph of a patient and peaceful man who deeply values freedom, responsibility, and the respect each human being owes to others (enotes.com).
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder – The plot is deceptively simple: On July 20, 1714, “the finest bridge in all Peru” collapses and five people die. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan missionary, happens to witness the tragedy, and as a result, he asks the central question of the novel: “Why did this happen to those five?” He sets out to explore the lives of the five victims, and to understand why they died. Ironically, his quest will lead to his own death (tcnj.edu).
  • Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry – A Polynesian legend. It is the story of a young boy, named Mafatu, and his struggle for independence, courage, recognition and inclusion (Book Rags).
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London – The mythopoetic story of Buck, a sledge dog in the Klondike, and his journey of transformation (london.sonoma.edu).
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – The tale of Jerry Renault, a freshman at an all-boys Catholic school, who decided to buck the system and “disturb the universe” [by refusing] to sell chocolates during the school’s annual chocolate sale [making] a move that upsets the balance of power and causes many in the school to question their motivations.  Published in 1974 and inspired by Cormier’s son, Peter, who took a similar action, refusing to sell chocolates, as a matter of principle (suite101.com).
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas – A classic adventure novel, often considered Dumas’ best work, and frequently included on lists of the best novels of all time. Completed in 1844, and released as an 18-part series over the next two years, Dumas collaborated with other authors throughout. The story takes place in France, Italy, and the Mediterranean from the end of the rule of Napoleon I through the reign of Louis-Philippe (manybooks.net).
  • Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster – Similar to Anne of Green Gables, a young adult novel that all ages can enjoy. Like Anne, Judy starts out as a rambunctious orphan. Her high spirits get her through many trials, and by the end she turns out a mature (yet energetic) young woman who gets her happy ending. It is a quick, entertaining read with some plot twists that the astute reader will pick up beforehand–but the enjoyment remains the same no matter what one guesses about the ending (girlebooks.com).
  • Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – A Jewish girl and only 13 years old when she was forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust, she and her family, along with four others, spent 25 months during World War II in an annex of rooms above her father’s office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, before they were found by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. Although Anne did not survive, her diary did. Through this diary we see Anne’s life, set against a background of unbelievably horrific world events (teachervision.fen.com).
  • Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey – The first volume in the series, is the enchanting tale of how Menolly of Half Circle Hold became Pern’s first female Harper, and rediscovered the legendary fire lizards who helped to save her world (amazon.com).
  • Dragonwings by Laurence Yep – Chinese tradition and culture come vividly t life as father and son face the challenges of living in America. They experience discrimination, but also make valued friends.  The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire bring destruction but new opportunities for the boy and his father (Glencoe Literature).
  • Enchantress From the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl – On a mission to a medieval planet, Elana becomes the key to a daring plan to thwart an invasion. An intelligent, thoughtful work that will stimulate as it entertains (Sonlight).
  • The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig – In June 1942, the Rudomin family is arrested by the Russians. They are “capitalists — enemies of the people.” Forced from their home and friends in Vilna, Poland, they are herded into crowded cattle cars. Their destination: the endless steppe of Siberia. For five years, Ester and her family live in exile, weeding potato fields and working in the mines, struggling for enough food and clothing to stay alive. Only the strength of family sustains them and gives them hope for the future (Harper Collins).
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – A classic novel of censorship and defiance, as resonant today as it was when it was first published nearly 50 years ago (raybradbury.com).
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – The novel reflects many elements of the Romantic period (1798-1832): the primacy of feeling, the importance of nature, the individual and his quest, the supernatural and the exotic, and solitude (pinkmonkey.com).
  • The Ghost Belonged To Me by Richard Peck – This novel, the first in the Blossom Culp series, combines historical, comical and supernatural events in a most delightful way. The book is not difficult to read or understand and should be well within the reach of most fifth graders and could go up or down. It makes a good read aloud with some great slapstick comedy and not a little historical information (carolhurst.com).
  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton – A book about a an educator who has lived many years, been touched by the sentiments of the time and has shepherded generations from boyhood to manhood. It is also about an old world being left behind and a new, tumultuous yet exciting one taking its place (novelinsights.wordpress.com).
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”, The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo’s journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into darker, deeper territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien’s Wilderland (Wikipedia).
  • The Horatio Hornblower Series by C.S. Forester – The Hornblower books were the original series of sea stories set in the Napoleonic Wars, that last great conflict of the Age of Sail. Many young people have read them and dreamed of adventures on the briny deep (leighkimmelbookstore.com).
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo – Regarded as a standard classic and it must be one of the most adapted stories for cinema and television. In addition, the bell ringer, Quasimodo, has become a horror classic – although anyone that reads the novel realizes that Frollo represents the horror. And perhaps the English title – which Hugo himself hated – is to blame for putting too much emphasis on the hunchback (hugo-online.org).
  • Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert – The story of a farm boy living in the prairie country of Manitoba. He is a strange, silent boy who cannot communicate well with people but has a great affinity for animals (alaneck.com).
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott – Follows the fortunes of the son of a noble Saxon family in Norman England as he woos his lady, disobeys his father, and is loved by another. Set in late 12C England and in Palestine with Richard Cœur-de-Lion at the Crusades, it’s another ripping historical yarn by Scott (LibriVox).
  • Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O’Dell – A story of survival, based upon the true story of a girl who was left upon an island near the coast of Southern California. She lived there for 18 years, alone. While she waited for rescue, she kept herself alive by building shelter, finding food, and fighting her enemies–the wild dogs (scottodell.com).
  • Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson – It is the story of a young girl who comes of age on a conservative Methodist Island on the Chesapeake Bay, an isolated island called Rass. The protagonist, Louise, struggles to find her way out of the shadow of her beautiful and talented twin sister Caroline (bookrags.com).
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes – Unique because it told the story of the American Revolution through the eyes of a boy, not a leader of the Revolution. “Esther Forbes’s power to create, and to recreate, a face, a voice, a scene takes us as living spectators to the Boston Tea Party, to the Battle of Lexington and of North Creek.”- The Saturday Review, 1943 (wpi.edu).
  • Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida – Makes a strong social point, [but] it is primarily a story about individuals coping in times of great stress. The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was not only a national tragedy, it was a personal one for those who were rounded up from their homes and forced to move to isolated camps. Through Yuki, the main character, readers can see the events of the internment process firsthand; she and other characters are so well drawn that the history of the period comes alive (enotes.com).
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George – This novel of adventure and suspense presents the clash between traditional Inuit values and those of the modern westernized world.  When Julie decides that running away is her only alternative to a frightening situation, she becomes lost in the frozen Arctic tundra. Her knowledge of traditional Inuit ways and her understanding of the starkness and beauty of nature enable her to survive with a wolf pack (glencoe.com).
  • Kim by Rudyard Kipling – Kipling was an Imperialist, and ‘Kim’ embodies attitudes towards British rule in India which these days are unacceptable. But as a work of fiction it does have fine literary qualities, and it deserves its unique place in the history of English literature. The novel embodies a panoramic celebration of India, presenting as it does a magnificent picture of its landscapes, both urban and rural, and a fascinating array of native characters who, for the most part, are warm, generous and tolerant. Beyond that, ‘Kim’ is an adventure story of the [British] Empire (ezinearticles.com).
  • The Last Mission by Harry Mazer – Fifteen-year-old Jack Raab is eager to fight Hitler when he enlists in the Air Corps during World War II, but seeing his best friend killed when their plane is shot down makes him wonder if there is any meaning to all the deaths (randomhouse.com)
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper – The most popular of Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, The Last of the Mohicans takes place in 1757 during the French and Indian War and recounts the story of a an unarmed massacre, the kidnapping of two sisters, and their rescue by Hawk-eye and his two Mohican friends Uncas and Chingachook (americanliterature.com).
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory – Edited and first published by William Caxton in 1485, Sir Thomas Malory’s unique and splendid version of the Arthurian legend tells an immortal stoey of love, adventure, chivalry, treachery, and death (mysticrealms.org). 
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Irving Washington – It is difficult to think of an American ghost story more well-known… Though Irving’s original sources for the stories may have been local folklore based on the same stories which the Grimm Brothers would collect and publish back in the Old World, Irving’s tale would emerge as one of America’s first and most familiar stories until, like the best stories, it seeped into the American consciousness the way wellwater rises from some hidden source deep underground (greenmanreview.com).
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – [It] appears to be a simple children’s tale, some would say that it is actually a profound and deeply moving tale, written in riddles and laced with philosophy and poetic metaphor (spiritual.com). 
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Published in 1868, Little Women follows the lives, loves and tribulations of fours sisters growing up during the American Civil War. The story is based the childhood experiences Alcott shared with her real life sisters, Anna, May and Elzabeth. The novel stars Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy and explores the rich nuances of family and family relationships (americanliterature.com).
  • M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton – M.C. dreams of escape for himself and his family. And, one day atop his pole, he thinks he sees it — two strangers are making their way toward Sarah’s Mountain. One has the ability to make M.C.’s mother famous. And the other has a freedom that M.C. has never even considered. Ms. Hamilton was the first African-American to win the John Newbery Medal. [This] is also the only book ever to have been awarded the Newbery Medal, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the National Book Award – the three most prestigious U.S. awards for children’s books.
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle – The author takes you back to Merry Olde England and a Robin Hood that is nothing like the tv or recent movie versions at all. You are transported through the language and descriptions of the land, so that you feel part of that magical era. The love Robin had for his men and for his King, and for Sherwood Forrest itself, will reach into your soul. It’s more than a classic, it makes you feel you were there, wishing you could run to the call of those three bugle blasts… (classicreader.com).
  • My Brother Sam Is Dead by James and Christopher Collier – All his life, Tim Meeker has looked up to his brother Sam. Sam’s smart and brave – and is now a part of the American Revolution. Not everyone in town wants to be a part of the rebellion. Most are supporters of the British – including Tim and Sam’s father. With the war soon raging, Tim know he’ll have to make a choice – between the Revolutionaries and the Redcoats . . . and between his brother and his father (fantasticfiction.co.uk).
  • My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara – No matter how hard he tries, 12-year-old Ken McLaughlan cannot meet his father’s expectations.  Ken’s family operates a cattle ranch in Laramie, Wyoming.  To successfully operate a ranch requires time, effort, knowledge, stamina, and ability to meet unexpceted challenges.  Ken wanted to shoe his dad that he was up to the challenge, but every time he tried, it back-fired on him.  Ken’s luck began to change when he was given a rambunctious cold he named Flicka (thereadingtub.com).
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass is one of the most celebrated writers in the African American literary tradition, and his first autobiography is the one of the most widely read North American slave narratives. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave was published in 1845, less than seven years after Douglass escaped from slavery (docsouth.unc.edu). Douglass’s narrative of his life as a slave lets readers feel the fear he has as a small child separated from his mother, allows us to experience with him the pain inflicted by undeserved whippings and weakness caused by too little food and too much physical exertion, and helps us understand not only the hate of the slave for the master but the sickness of hate that allowed human beings to keep other human beings as chattel (teachervision.fen.com).
  • National Velvet by Enid Bagnold – The timeless story of spirited Velvet Brown and her beloved horse has thrilled generations of readers. And now the republication of this classic story in a fresh, up-to-date package will charm confirmed fans while captivating new ones. Fourteen-year-old Velvet is determined to turn her untamed horse into a champion and personally ride him to victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase, the Grand National (brightkidsworld.com).
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – The Outsiders, [a book] about teenage gangs and alienated youth in Tulsa during the 1960’s, transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer adolescent world. Some readers don’t know that S. E. is a woman, Susan Eloise. She published “The Outsiders” when she was 17 (nytimes.com).
  • The Pigman by Paul Zindel – For sophomores John and Lorraine, the world feels meaningless; nothing is important. They certainly can never please their parents, and school is a chore. To pass the time, they play pranks on unsuspecting people. It’s during one of these pranks that they meet the “Pigman”–a fat, balding old man with a zany smile plastered on his face. In spite of themselves, John and Lorraine soon find that they’re caught up in Mr. Pignati’s zest for life. In fact, they become so involved that they begin to destroy the only corner of the world that’s ever mattered to them (paulzindel.com).
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan – Originally composed in the 17th century, this spiritual allegory has entertained and delighted innumerous readers for over 300 years. Part I tells of “Christian” and his journey to “Celestial City;” Part II tells of the journey of Christian’s wife Christiana and their children to Celestial City. The two parts work together as a unified whole, which describes and depicts the believer’s life and struggles. Indeed, given the easy style of the book, readers of all ages can understand the spiritual significance of the depictions in the story (ccel.org).
  • Poems by Robert Frost – Though his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England, and though he was a poet of traditional verse forms and metrics who remained steadfastly aloof from the poetic movements and fashions of his time, Frost is anything but a merely regional or minor poet. The author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, he is a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony (poets.org).
  • The Red Pony by John Steinbeck – The Red Pony is divided into four stories. Each story centers on a boy named Jody; the four together show him in a critical time of his childhood. In the first story, Jody is ten years old. The stories are close together in chronological time; indeed, Steinbeck is careful to remind readers that Jody is a “little boy” at the start of each story (sparknotes.com).
  • Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith – This is a rich and sweeping novel-rich in its panorama of history; in its details so clear that the reader never doubts for a moment that he is there; in its dozens of different people, each one fully realized and wholly recognizable. It is a story of a lesser known part of the Civil War, the Western campaign, a part different in its issues and its problems, and fought with a different savagery. Inexorably it moves to a dramat-ic climax, evoking a brilliant picture of a war and the men of both sides who fought in it (harpercollins.com).
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – Daniel Defoe’s The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe was published as a fictional memoir in 1719. Today Robinson Crusoe remains a popular adventure narrative. In fact, the book gave rise to the “Robinsonade,” adventure tales that rework the structural elements of Crusoe’s island tale. Moreover, the character of Robinson Crusoe is recognized as a literary and cultural icon, like Don Quixote, Don Juan, and Faust; the story of a man stuck on a deserted island has become familiar to nearly everyone in the Western world (enotes.com).
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor – The year is 1933 in the heart of the depression. Cassie Logan and her family live in rural Mississippi, where they own and farm 400 acres. Although Cassie and her brothers attend a school for black children, she is unaware of the intense racial hatred and prejudice that exists in the community. As the story unfolds, Cassie is surprised and angered to learn that many white people think she and other black people are inferior. She learns to fear the violence that often accompanies these ugly feelings. Cassie knows how much the Logans value their land and how determined they are not to lose it.  Slowly, she becomes aware of how high a price she and her family must pay to fight injustice – and to hold on to not only their land but the independence that it represents (Scholastic).
  • Shane by Jack Schaefer – Joe and Marion Starrett are farmers, one family in a group of homesteaders who have fenced off and built a home on the range. As to be expected, the cattle barons who, for years, have used the wide open plains to feed their herd are not too happy about those fences. Trouble is a-brewin’, and folks are talkin’ about sellin’ out and gittin’ before the shootin’ starts. And then Shane rides into town (likesbooks.com).
  • Story of My Life by Helen Keller – The Story of My Life contains three parts. The first is Helen Keller’s autobiographical account of her life from childhood to the beginning of her studies at Radcliffe. This chronicle describes the transformation of Helen’s life brought about by the arrival of Anne Sullivan, her teacher and mentor, when she succeeded in conveying to Helen the “mystery of language.” Part II contains Helen’s letters to family and friends, arranged in chronological sequence, and documents her growth in thought and expression through her writing. The introduction and editorial comments in this section were contributed by John Macy, an editor of the Youth’s Companion magazine and an instructor at Harvard who became the literary agent for Ms. Keller and editor of many of her works. The third part, a supplementary section, contains an account of Helen Keller’s life and education written by John Macy, based for the most part on the records and observations of Anne Sullivan (afb.org).
  • To Be a Slave by Julius Lester – This work is a collection of actual interviews with former slaves, not only from the Writer’s Project, but documents dating back to the founding of the nation. Most of these interviews and accounts can be found in the Library of Congress. This work covers every aspect of the life of a slave, from their capture in Africa, their trip through the Middle Passage, and then their life of servitude in their new “home.” The author addresses the extreme mental and physical cruelty involved, the daily life of a plantation slave, the slave breeding farms of Virginia, the deplorable living condition that the vast majority of these people were forced to live in, the tearing apart of families, diet, clothing, working conditions…and on and on (booksforkids-reviews.com).
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – An adventure novel, a thrilling tale of “buccaneers and buried gold.” Traditionally considered a coming of age story, it is an adventure tale of superb atmosphere, character and action, and also a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality—as seen in Long John Silver—unusual for children’s literature then and now (wikipedia.org).
  • The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss – Johanna de Leeuw Reiss has written a remarkably fresh and moving account of her own experiences as a young girl during World War II. Like many adults she was innocent of the German plans for Jews, and she might have gone to a labor camp as scores of families did. “It won’t be for long and the Germans have told us we’ll be treated well,” those families said. “What can happen?” They did not know, and they could not imagine…. But millions of Jews found out. Mrs. Reiss’s picture of the Oosterveld family with whom she lived, and of Annie and Sini, reflects a deep spirit of optimism, a faith in the ingenuity, backbone, and even humor with which ordinary human beings meet extraordinary challenges. In the steady, matter-of-fact, day-by-day courage they all showed lies a profound strength that transcends the horrors of the long and frightening war (harpercollinschildrens.com).
  • War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells – Written in response to several historical events. The most important was the unification and militarization of Germany, which led to a series of novels predicting war in Europe, beginning with George Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking (1871). Most of these were written in a semi-documentary fashion; and Wells borrowed their technique to tie his interplanetary war tale to specific places in England familiar to his readers. This attempt at hyper-realism helped to inspire Orson Welles when the latter created his famed 1938 radio broadcast based on the novel (wsu.edu).
  • Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera Cleaver – Mary Call has promised her dying father to keep her brother and sisters together forever on the mountain, and never to take any help from strangers. She is determined to keep her word. No matter what. At first she is sure she can manage. Romey, Ima Dean, and Devola help gather herbs to sell in town; the riches of the mountains will surely keep the family clothed and fed. But then winter comes, fast and furious, and Mary Call has to learn that the land where the lilies bloom is also a cruel and unforgiving place, and it may take more than a promise to keep her family together (harpercollinschildrens.com).
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls – Author Wilson Rawls spent his boyhood much like the character of this book, Billy Colman, roaming the Ozarks of northeastern Oklahoma with his bluetick hound. A straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip storyteller with a searingly honest voice, Rawls is well-loved for this powerful 1961 classic (amazon.com).
  • The White Mountains by John Christopher – John Christopher’s compelling science fiction saga about the interplanetary Tripods and Masters who threaten all life on earth (ecampus.com).
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – Set in the wild and beautiful interior of the Florida scrublands in the late 1800s, The Yearling follows one year in the life of young Jody Baxter and the young pet he has so desperately longed for, a fawn he names Flag.  Throughout this tale of Jody’s love for his pet, the reader encounters rich descriptions of the natural beauty and thrilling accounts of adventure and danger.  In the end, however, harsh reality requires Jody to make the most difficult decision of his young life (glencoe.com).

Enjoy!

Five for Friday – Five Festive Films

Christmas is coming… very soon.  With that in mind – a (very early) Five for Friday – Five Festive Films (I haven’t done this in quite a while, so consider this an early – or late – gift):

According to Moviefone, these are the top five Christmas films.  My tastes are similar to those of the Moviefone family, but in a (somewhat) different order:

5. White Christmas (Moviefone description) Aren’t we all dreaming of a ‘White Christmas’? The movie starring Bing “Mr. Christmas” Crosby and Danny Kaye is as charming as the tune, with all the elements to warm the heart: Two GIs come home from WWII, fall in love with singing-and-dancing sisters and help their general with his failing Vermont inn. Awww.

My thought: I’m good with this one.  My family has watched this together for years on Christmas Eve.  It’s a classic.  I also like the film that introduced the song White Christmas – Holiday Inn.

4. Scrooged (Moviefone description) Only Bill Murray could so expertly walk the fine line between pathos and hilarity, as he does playing miserly TV exec Frank Cross. Complete with a taxi-driving Ghost of Christmas Past and a (literally) ball-busting Ghost of Christmas Present, this Dickens send-up is so offbeat and fun, Yule love it!

My thought: I’m pretty good with this one too.  I love Bill Murray’s humor – Groundhog Day and What About Bob are among my favorite films.  Plus, I have a soft spot for almost anything Dickens.

3. Miracle on 34th Street – (Moviefone description) If this ’47 classic doesn’t make you a Santa believer, nothing (especially the ’94 remake) will. It’s dark stuff for a Christmas flick — Kris Kringle is put on trail to determine if he’s legally insane — but the endgame (in which the US Postal Service saves the day!) is utterly heartwarming.

My thought: This is probably my spot for A Christmas Story (see #1), but ‘Miracle’ would likely still be in my top 15.  I love it when he bops the psychologist on the head.

2. It’s A Wonderful Life – (Moviefone description) A tale of depression and almost-suicide doesn’t exactly scream “Christmas classic” — which is probably why Frank Capra’s flick flopped at the box office. But more than 30 years later, it endures as a beloved testament to everything Christmas embodies: family, friends and the joy of life.

My thought: This is a movie that really caught on with the advent of TV and a need to fill time during the Christmas holidays.  Enough airplay and it became a classic.  My son and I love it, my wife and daughter hate it – not much of a barometer to go by, because that is true of most movies in our home.  ‘Wonderful Life’ is still in my top 10, but  my number 2 is Moviefone’s number 16 – Die Hard.  Nothing gets one in the holiday mood like terrorists/thieves battling the entire Los Angeles police force and FBI, but being brought down by one New York cop (well, he is played by Bruce Willis).

1. A Christmas Story – (Moviefone description) There’s nary a scene to forget in this near-perfect nostalgic look at where Americana and Christmastime meet. The story of a young boy’s epic quest to get his hands on a Red Ryder BB gun provides the hilarious backdrop for a timeless tale rife with family hijinks, frozen tongues and, of course, sex-oozing leg lamps.

My thought: I think it is a funny film and very well done, but not quite up to number one – maybe third.  Watch for yourself on TBS on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it will make an annual 24 hour run.  My number 1 is Moviefone’s number 11 – Alastair Sim as Scrooge in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol.

Honorable Mention: Elf. (Moviefone description) Frank Ricard. Ron Burgundy. Ricky Bobby. They’re all unforgettable Will Ferrell personas, but the role he might be remembered for most in 50 years is Buddy the Elf (what’s your favorite color?) from ’03’s instant holiday classic. This non-stop laugher exemplifies all-ages entertainment.

My thought: Elf is on the edge and may very soon make it into my top five.  It is humorous, charming, and very nearly innocent fun.

Enjoy!

Five for Friday – Unique USB Devices

I have many USB storage devices (or memory sticks, or thumb drives, or…), but I don’t have any of these:

A “real” thumb drive:

usb-thumb

My favorite – the teddy bear:

usb-teddybear

My least favorite – sushi (I don’t like fish):

usb-sushi

Can I has a cheezburger:

usb-cheeseburger

A technogeek’s dream:

swiss-army-usb-2

And a bonus –

These dogs apparently have mistaken your computer for a leg:

usb-dogs

Enjoy!

I’ve been collecting the photos and just realized that I didn’t write down any of the sites from which I retrieved them.  Sorry.  I know it’s frustrating to find a photo of something you would like to buy, then find the location is missing.  Again, sorry.

2009 Historians Presidential Leadership Survey

C-SPAN marked President’s Day by updating its Historians Presidential Leadership Survey from 2000.  I found it pretty interesting.  Click here to see a better compilation of the results with some interaction available and a list of historians involved:

President                  2009 Score       2009 Rank       2000 Rank
Abraham Lincoln               902                             1                               1
George Washington           854                             2                               3
Franklin D. Roosevelt      837                             3                               2
Theodore Roosevelt        781                              4                               4
Harry S. Truman                708                            5                               5
John F. Kennedy                701                            6                               8
Thomas Jefferson              698                             7                               7
Dwight D. Eisenhower      689                             8                                9
Woodrow Wilson                683                             9                                6
Ronald Reagan                    671                           10                              11
Lyndon B. Johnson           641                            11                              10
James K. Polk                      606                           12                               12
Andrew Jackson                 606                           13                              13
James Monroe                     605                           14                              14
Bill Clinton                             605                          15                               21
William McKinley               599                           16                               15
John Adams                          545                           17                              16
George H. W. Bush              542                          18                               20
John Quincy Adams          542                          19                               19
James Madison                    535                          20                              18
Grover Cleveland                523                         21                               17
Gerald R. Ford                      509                        22                               23
Ulysses S. Grant                   490                        23                               33
William Howard Taft          485                        24                               24
Jimmy Carter                        474                       25                               22
Calvin Coolidge                    469                       26                               27
Richard M. Nixon               450                       27                               25
James A. Garfield               445                       28                                29
Zachary Taylor                   443                       29                                28
Benjamin Harrison            442                       30                                31
Martin Van Buren              435                       31                                 30
Chester A. Arthur              420                      32                                 32
Rutherford B. Hayes         409                      33                                 26
Herbert Hoover                  389                      34                                 34
John Tyler                             372                     35                                 36
George W. Bush                   362                      36                                 NA
Millard Fillmore                 351                       37                                35
Warren G. Harding             327                     38                                 38
William Henry Harrison  324                     39                                 37
Franklin D. Pierce              287                     40                                39
Andrew Johnson                258                    41                                 40
James Buchanan                 227                   42                                 41

Enjoy!